Probability 1

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9780151003761: Probability 1

For thousands of years, it was the visionaries and writers who argued that we cannot be alone-that there is intellegent life in the universe. Now, with the discoveries of the Hubble Telescope, data emerging from Mars, and knowledge about life at the extremes, scientists are taking up where they left off. Amir Aczel, author of Fermat's Last Theorem, pulls together everyting science has discovered, and mixes in proabability theory, to argure the case for the existence of intelligent life beyond this planet. Probability 1 is an extraordinary tour de force in which the author draws on cosmology, math, and biology to tell the rollicking good story of scientists tackling important scientific questions that help answer this fundamental question. What is the probability of intelligent life in the universe? Read this book, and you'll be convinced, by the power of the argument and the excitement of the science.

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Review:

In a universe infinitely large, what is the probability of intelligent life on another planet? Sounds like a trick question, but for anyone versed in cosmology and statistics, the answer is 1; that is, there must be life on at least one other planet in the universe. This is Amir Aczel's theorem. But, as physicist Enrico Fermi once asked, if that's true, where is everyone? Aczel tackles that paradox after he goes through the statistical calculations for the probability of intelligent life, considering factors such as how many stars are in a galaxy, how many of those stars might be hospitable, how many might have planets, and how many planets might have environments suitable to support life as we know it (or as we don't). Aczel also provides an overview of the relevant developments in astronomy and biology--laying the groundwork to show that the universe's chemistry must add up to life. Whether life was spread through the universe by chunks of debris like ALH84001--the enigmatic meteorite from Mars that contained tantalizing hints of the possibility of life--or arose independently, Aczel is sure it is out there. After teasing readers with scientific history, Probability 1 delivers on its promise to prove Aczel's conjecture through a clearly explained application of known statistical theory to the chaos of the universe. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

Amir D. Aczel, Ph.D. grew up on a ship and was navigating straits in the Mediterranean long before he could drive a car. The author of Fermat's Last Theorem, God's Equation, The Mystery of the Aleph, and Probability 1, he lives with his wife and daughter in the Boston area and teaches at Bentley College.

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